Budget is Best in Festive Food Test

Posted on 8 November, 2012 by Kirsten Kennedy

After the excitement of Halloween, households nationwide will now be preparing for the biggest holiday of the year – as the start of November ushers in the period where Christmas shopping can begin without looking a little too eager. Presents will be purchased, gifts will be wrapped and the all-important Christmas dinner will be planned right down to the very last Brussels sprout.

However, with it being Britain’s first non-recession Christmas in quite some time, many household purses may still be feeling a little battered – but not to worry, as this year budget supermarket Aldi is said to have one of the best Christmas puddings on the market, beating even luxury store Fortnum & Mason’s festive offering. What a great excuse to save a few pennies on Christmas dinner without looking like a Scrooge!

While Aldi’s pudding did not quite take the top spot, the £7.99 offering was described as “delicious” and “a real bargain” by the judges. Waitrose’s Christmas pudding won overall, with the experts blown away by its “lovely warm boozy, zesty orange flavour.” While it costs a little more than the Aldi alternative at £14.99, it is significantly cheaper than the £24.95 Fortnum & Mason pudding which experts said was “a real disappointment”, thus putting it in 29th place out of the 32 different brands included in the survey.

Good Housekeeping tested different festive favourites from more than twenty retail brands, all of whom are expected to up their annual profits over the Christmas period. 162 samples were tested by experts in all, from categories including champagne, cranberry sauce, turkey, mince pies and smoked salmon.

Unfortunately, designer brands failed to impress this year in many of the categories, with Fortnum & Mason also taking bottom place in the cranberry sauce taste test. The winner of that category was won by Tesco, which retails the festive essential at £1.49.

Christmas cakes were another aspect in which cheaper brands came out victorious, with the top five shortlisted items all falling within the own brand bracket from some of Britain’s most popular supermarkets. However, mince pies were a different story – specialists such as Harrods, Rose Prince, Bettys and Gail’s dominated the category, with Morrisons being the only supermarket rated by the experts.

In the smoked salmon competition, Scottish brand Uig Lodge was the runaway victor, although Aldi did take second place – proving that quality can be found at both ends of the price scale.

Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were all commended for the high quality of champagne on offer, with Waitrose winning the category after some debate amongst the judges. The Brut Special Reserve Vintage 2004 bottle is expected to be adorning many Christmas tables this year, especially after a high recommendation from Good Housekeeping.

Caroline Bloor, Good Housekeeping consumer director, said; “Shopping for Christmas dinner – one of the most eagerly anticipated meals of the year – can be very stressful.

“Deciding what to choose when faced with products you may only buy once a year can be hit and miss. That’s why we have done all the hard work for you and tracked down the best options across 11 categories.

“Our annual Good Housekeeping Tried and Tested special on festive foods proves you don’t need to bust the budget buying expensive names to treat everyone to something special.

“In most categories, the overall winner is from a high street supermarket – so if you’re going to splash out, save your money for the smoked salmon and mince pies.”

Do you think Christmas dinner is something which can be saved on, or is it the one time of year where spending is acceptable? Would you buy your Christmas dinner from a budget supermarket like Aldi, or do you prefer to go to specialists for items such as mince pies and Christmas pudding while ordering your turkey from a butcher?

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